Back in May, local volleyball export to Rwanda, Gaoleseletse Gasekgonwe broke her finger, a nasty injury that would cause both physical and emotional pain.
The damaged digit kept the 36-year-old sidelined for three months, forcing her to miss the Africa Women’s Interclub Championships in Tunisia.
Although missing out on the continent’s top club competition came as a cruel blow to Gasekgonwe, she did not let it break her spirit, doubling her efforts in the gym.
“Being injured is depressing. Since the ordeal in Tunisia, it’s been difficult because I knew if I was part of the team we were going to finish in a better position at the Club championship. So I didn’t stop training. I was working on my legs at the gym until I got recovered. I felt our loss twice as hard and I become a wounded lion because even my girls were now getting used to losing which was not good for our brand and morale!” she tells Voice Sport from her Central African base.
Gasekgonwe’s hard work paid off in spectacular style, the explosive athlete returning from her long lay-off last month to lead her club, Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA) to victory in the Gisaka Tournament.
In the final, RRA gained revenge over their arch rivals, Armee Patriotique Rwanda (APR), beating their nemesis 3-1 to seal the title.
“This year they defeated us twice at the quarter-finals of Africa Club Championships and in another domestic cup in Rwanda, so it was important that we stop this dominance,” notes the long-legged sportswomen, who made her name locally with Mag-Stimela and has been a national team regular for over 16 years.
The moment was all the more sweeter for Gasekgonwe, whose individual brilliance not only guided RRA to the title but saw her rewarded with the tournament’s Most Valuable Player and Best Attacker accolades.
For the woman known as ‘Lizzy’ in volleyball circles, her Gisaka heroics mark the latest high in a sporting history littered with personal glory.
Her Rwandan adventure began in 2020, when she joined University of Tourism Technology and Business Studies (UTB) Volleyball Club, one of the biggest teams in the land.
It didn’t take the Botswana star long to make her make in a foreign land, winning the league and three domestic cups win her first season.
Gasekgonwe’s winning streak continued when she signed for RRA last November, with the Gisaka success adding to first place finishes in the Kayumba Memorial Tournament and Liberation Cup.
With Rwanda’s national league due to start this weekend, the hard hitting volleyballer is confident more gold lies on the horizon.
“My aim and goal is to win it even though it is not easy but I want it wholeheartedly. Right now I have intensified my workouts and training hours for me to get to my normal performance even though my finger is not yet fully recovered. As a team we agreed to work more than before and for them seeing me back in court is a motivation,” she concluded hungrily.